While some people have avoided falling for the smartphone trap altogether, the rest of us are unconsciously checking our devices all day long. One thing to realize about a digital addiction is its physical effects on the body. When we stare at these tiny screens the muscles in our eyes are tense and contracted. This is often referred to as Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain. The symptoms can be blurred vision, dry achy itchy eyes, and headaches.
This intense focus also puts us in fight or flight. This kind of focus tells our body that there is a reason to be tense and ready for action thus stimulating our sympathetic nervous system and a cascade of stress hormones, which make us irritable, short fused, and over reactive. Our body assumes we are focusing on a perceived threat and thus we react accordingly.
But how do we fix it? We can’t all just quit smart phones and computers cold turkey, most of us spend hours every day having to work on our computers or we simply enjoy reading engaging blog posts from our favorite community acupuncture clinics. If your work has you staring at a screen all day, change the contrast on the screen to accommodate what is most comfortable for you. Reduce the brightness of your screen to reduce your exposure to blue light or set your screen to dark mode. Set alarms to add eye drops throughout the day to keep your eyes moist, and remember to look away from the screen. Stare off into the distance, let your gaze soften and relax. This softening signals to your nervous system that you perceive your environment to be safe. It not only reduces eye strain but it also calms us.
Most importantly get acupuncture! Not only will it be a 30-45 minute break from looking at a screen, there are also lots of acupuncture points that address headaches and vision issues. Just remember after you make your appointment to then turn your device off and unplug.